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Pearce will not endorse in primary for House race

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Steve Pearce, state Republican Party chair and former U.S. congressman, said he will refrain from endorsing any candidate vying to be the party’s nominee in the race for the District 2 U.S. House seat he once occupied.

Pearce in an Aug. 30 post on his Facebook page, wrote that Republican Party rules preclude him or any state or county party officer from publicly endorsing a candidate in a contested primary. Pearce added that he also has a longstanding personal policy against coming out in favor of a candidate in a primary.

“These factors lead me to make clear that I am in no manner supporting any of the 3 candidates for the CD-2,” Pearce stated in the post. He vowed to instead support and work hard for the nominee to elect whoever wins the June 5 primary to take on U.S. Rep Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat from Las Cruces, in the 2020 general election.

So far, Claire Chase, a Roswell resident and director of government relations for Mack Energy, former state Rep. Yvette Herrell of Alamogordo and Chris Mathys, a commercial broker from Las Cruces, are all running to be the Republican nominee in a race the Cook Political Report currently rates as a “tossup.”

Pearce stated in the post that in recent weeks he has received calls asking which candidates he supports in different contested primaries. In particular he said people were interested in who Pearce hopes will be the Republican nominee in the congressional district he represented from 2003 to 2009 and then again from 2011to 2019.

Last year after Pearce opted not to seek re-election and instead be the party’s candidate for governor against Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham. Torres Small narrowly prevailed over Torres Small in the normally Republican 2nd congressional district. The district encompasses most of the state south of Albuquerque including the Permian Basin, Las Cruces and Roswell.

In his Facebook post, Pearce stated it is crucial the party avoid division and rally around the eventual winner of the primary.

“We cannot afford divisive primaries in 2020. The stakes are too high and any fracture in our party will cost votes,” Pearce said.

Instead, Pearce said he is asking each candidate if they lose the primary they plan to support the eventual nominee in the general election. He wrote the question is one voters should ask each candidate if they have the chance to do so.

“I ask that each candidate make a pledge now to back the winner, regardless of outcome and that these campaigns remain above reproach by not insinuating endorsements in mailers, photos or verbally as they work to earn your vote,” Pearce added.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, an organization tasked with recruiting and supporting Democrats in U.S. House races across the country issued a press release Tuesday, portraying Pearce’s refusal to endorse as a signal of the race’s weak Republican field.

“It’s no surprise former Congressman Pearce doesn’t want to put his reputation on the line for anyone in this weak Republican field of candidates running to put special interests ahead of hardworking southern New Mexicans,” Brooke Goren, a spokesperson with the DCCC, said in the release.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.